This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Monster Alabama Tornado Spawned by Rare "Perfect Storm" "

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after being hit by a
huge tornado on April 27, 2011. Photo
from National Geographic Daily News
by Marvin Gentry, Reuters
The headline above is from today's issue of National Geographic Daily News. A tornado, estimated to be a mile wide and an F5 on the Fujita scale devastated Tusaloosa.  The storm system that spawned this tornado has killed 260 people over two days. Meteorologists are trying to determine how long this tornado stayed on the ground, but it could have been hundreds of miles.

I could not explain the science nearly as eloquently as is done in a NASA Earth Observatory discussion of the weather systems that produced the deadly tornados in southeastern U.S. over the past two days, and so here's a link to their site. Here's a video animation of the storm that is absolutely awesome.

The obvious white clouds in the lower middle
part of this picture are the active storms that
ran through Alabama yesterday.
Photo from GEOS satellite.

Unfortunately, for us living in Tornado Alley, April is just the start of the tornado season, as tornados continue through May and into June. Typically the band of tornadic activity migrates north during the season, with Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska seeing tornados in May, and Minnesota and parts of the Dakotas in June.  Illinois is just vulnerable all of the time it seems!  Meteorologists point out that La Nina conditions have existed since the summer of 2010, but seem reluctant to say that this is why this season seems to be off to a particularly violent start.

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